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A New Plan to Turn Madrid Into Europe's Las Vegas

A mega-casino project is promising to spark a hiring and tourism boom, but it may not have learned from past mistakes.
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Andrea Comas/Reuters

Could a massive casino rescue Madrid from its economic doldrums? Spain’s media is buzzing with news of a massive new investment in their capital’s region by the Maryland-based Cordish Companies, which is pumping a phenomenal €2.2 billion ($2.35 billion) into the area to construct a 330 acre gambling and entertainment complex called Live! Resorts. The facility is slated to go up just outside Torres de la Alameda, a small ex-urban town located on Spain’s high, dry central plateau. Containing a Broadway-style theatre, gaming rooms, a circus, and up to 4,000 hotel beds, the complex would be the largest—or rather, the only one—of its kind in Europe.

The idea is that it could lure up to 1.6 million annual visitors—not just from Europe, but from also North America and the rest of the world, in a location that’s convenient from Madrid’s Barajas Airport. This, the regional government suggests, could create 56,443 jobs, a real windfall for a region that has never quite found its feet again after the 2008 financial crisis.